How to take responsibility for your own NSI prevention

December 04, 2014

As a healthcare worker, it's important that you take responsibility for your own safety during the course of your shift. Although it is the legal obligation of the employer to safeguard all members of staff from hazards, which involves minimising various risks as much as possible; a large share of the culpability belongs to the individual worker.

But how can you take responsibility for your own safety in terms of preventing needlestick injuries? There are a number of measures you can take as an individual to ensure your risk of suffering such an incident in the workplace is as minimal as possible:

Determine procedure

Whether you are new to a hospital or a piece of legislation has been recently updated, it's likely you may be unclear about what the current procedure is for a certain task. Being in the fast-paced, busy environment of a hospital or medical centre can make it difficult for people to speak up and ask for further clarification or training if necessary. However, it is vitally important that you identify these areas of uncertainty or weak skills in order to take responsibility for your own safety. 

Being unsure or unconfident with how best to approach a certain procedure can mean you are at a much higher risk of suffering an injury. In addition, this will make it more likely that you will lose concentration at some point as you will be worried about it, rather than just focusing on what you are doing.

Healthcare workers may feel like this exposes them as inexperienced or not deserving of their role to their superiors, but it is actually a very desirable skill for employees to have the initiative to know when they need to further their knowledge in a certain area.

Always follow protocol

Once you are sure about the appropriate protocol for each medical procedure you are likely to perform during your daily tasks, it's important that you always follow it. Although this may be challenging if you are used to doing it another way, or if you are pushed for time, it's vital that you adhere to the recommended guidelines or legislation. 

By endeavouring to follow the appropriate protocol each time you administer medication or take blood from a patient, it will not only reduce your risk of harming yourself and others, but you are also helping the new method feel more natural.

Avoid bad habits

Whether you have been working in hospitals for a few months or a number of decades, it's likely that you will be tempted at times to pick up bad habits. This may be because they save more time or are what other colleagues do, but it is always best to ensure you adhere to the recommended practice, rather than adapting it to your own method. This will help ensure that those around you, including patients, relatives and other staff, remain as safe as possible throughout a procedure and while medical sharps are exposed.

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